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Creative Disobedience: Spoken Protest as Public Art

Course enrollment will be available for this course once it is scheduled.

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Course Description

From Henry David Thoreau to Alicia Garza, this course looks at public oratory practices and protest texts as art forms. Beginning in the antebellum period and moving to today, this course reviews essays, speeches, political plays, and spoken word pieces to learn more about politically significant literary and performative devices. Students will research these devices and critical texts to develop an annotated bibliography as a fundamental resource for their own political arguments. Following their research, students will craft a personal artist statement and a text for performance.

Firing off with an abolitionist text from Henry David Thoreau, this survey course will consider protest literature in essay, speech, dramatic text, and spoken word formats. Starting in the antebellum period and carrying on through to contemporary issues of protest including works emerging from the Movement for Black Lives and the Occupy Wall Street movement, this class will take a creative look at the outspoken texts of American artists, writers, and activists that contested the political circumstances of their times. Students will learn and practice oration, political performance, and creative writing, while reading course materials. Students will learn how to apply specific literary and performance devices to successfully communicate a political idea. Writers surveyed in this course will include, Henry David Thoreau, William Wells Brown, Maria Stewart, Martin Luther King Jr, Luiz Valdez, Fannie Lou Hamer, Gil Scott Heron, Cherrie Moraga, Marshall Ganz, Danny Hoch, Suheir Hammad, Alicia Garza and more.

This course provides foundation for further study in theatre, U.S. history and politics.

By the end of the course, students will have completed collegiate-level research, an annotated bibliography, a final draft of a composition that will serve as their artist statement alongside a short text for solo performance. This course will prepare students for academic writing, public speaking, debate, and public performance. The course will also prepare students, through content and composition, for AP English Language and AP English Literature courses.

This course is open to rising juniors and seniors who are proficient in English language. AP or honors level English is preferred.

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